With a 3-2 vote, the El Paso County Commission last week rejected a federal grant of $38,520, which would have funded the camp. Participants were local youth, ages 16 through 21, enrolled in the federally funded Workforce Investment Act Youth Program, which the Pikes Peak Workforce Center administers for El Paso and Teller counties.
The camp would have provided an introduction to laptop computers, including the Windows platform, MS Office skills and Internet-based employment assistance. The intent: to provide the youth to become “self-sufficient and independent job searchers, career explorers and entry-level workers.” They also would have received a laptop computer, upon completing the camp.
Commissioners objected to the expense, even though the federal government would have picked up the tab.
“I think this is an outrageous fee for taxpayers — $1,920 per kid,” said Commissioner Peggy Littleton.
Commission Chairwoman Amy Lathen agreed.
“We cannot sustain these kinds of programs. Citizens pay federal income taxes, and at at this point, they’re funny money; they’re not federal dollars,” she said.
Littleton, a former state board of education member, said the youth could get computer training through school or other avenues.
Lathen said the program seems redundant .
Pikes Peak Workforce Center Chief Executive Officer Charlie Whelan said he understood the commissioners’ concerns and that he would try to find another way for the youth to receive laptops and computer training.